The great outdoors are synonymous with Maine’s brand. Our state is home to some of the most breathtaking public lands in the country, from Acadia National Park to Sebago Lake. With dozens of public parks and recreation spaces, it’s no wonder that Maine’s pristine natural resources draw 37 million tourists each year.

One of the best ways we can preserve and protect Maine’s natural resources is through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Established in 1964, the LWCF was created by Congress in a bipartisan effort to safeguard our public lands, beaches and parks.

I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to direct more funding toward the LWCF next year. The House included $524 million in its fiscal year 2020 budget – a 20 percent increase from last year, and the largest amount in more than 15 years. This funding bill is now headed to the Senate for approval.

I’ve also co-sponsored the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act, which would permanently and fully fund the LWCF. Instead of concerns about yearly funding, this funding would guarantee that LWCF gets the resources it needs. That’s a win for Maine.

In the years since its founding, the LWCF has created grants that protect more than just our lands, public beaches and national parks: These grants also protect critical drinking water supplies and wildlife habitat. And this funding is even more crucial in the face of the climate crisis.

As we dive into National Park and Recreation Month, let’s remember how funding for public lands touches our lives every day – from a family beach day at Tasseltop State Park to the afterschool baseball game down the road. In Congress, I’ll keep fighting to preserve our public lands for future generations to experience, explore and enjoy.

Chellie Pingree

Democratic 1st District U.S. representative

Washington


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